How Making Peace With Her Past Helped This Member Keep Off 130 Pounds*
*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Beth lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on PersonalPoints™.
As told to Katerina Gkionis
I was 10 years old when I first realized I had a weight issue. It happened when my grandfather made beautiful leather belts for all the kids in our family. We received them at a family gathering, and my mother looked at me, her face serious with concern. “Does the belt fit OK?” she asked.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but food had become a shield for me in response to trauma. The year prior, I had been sexually abused. I began eating more in the wake of the incident, subconsciously believing that if I got bigger, the abuse wouldn’t happen again.
My weight ballooned on a diet of fast food, sweets, and junk food. I wanted to be invisible. It got to the point where I was afraid to go out in public because there had been times where strangers had mocked me. I felt like I was barely existing.
My doctor gave me a stern warning in the spring of 2011: If I couldn’t get my weight under control, I’d have to start taking medication for type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. I was already on medication for high blood pressure. This was serious.
For years, I had looked at other people who were able to lose weight, wishing I could be like them. Now I was out of time for wishing. I decided to take action and join WW.
Changing my mindset
I started that summer, during a four-week hiatus from work. The first step was challenging for me—just standing in line at my Wellness Check-in made my palms sweat. I weighed 281 pounds. The thought of how much I had to lose felt suffocating. But the WW Guide was so helpful that day in helping me see through the fog: I was in the right place. I would have a plan. I’d focus on just five or 10 pounds at a time. I felt a tiny flicker of hope, which was enough to keep me going.
The things I learned in my first WW Workshop became my golden rules. I started measuring and weighing my food with a scale. I began reading nutrition labels and understanding serving sizes. I drank more water instead of soda. I tracked everything that went into my mouth. During that first month on WW, I was an A+ student, and it paid off: I lost 10 pounds*.
What Elizabeth ate then vs. now
Overnight oats; frittata made with two eggs, shredded potatoes, and diced onion and peppers; or yogurt with berries
Peanut butter and jelly or a deli sandwich loaded with meat and cheese on a hoagie roll
Tuna or chicken with cucumbers, peppers, onion, tomato, corn, avocado, and oil and vinegar with vegetables and pickles in a whole wheat wrap; a snack-size bag of kettle-baked potato chips
Fast-food burger with French fries; chicken cutlets, mashed potatoes, corn
Baked lemon-dill salmon or flounder—or grilled chicken— with a sweet potato, brown rice, or roasted acorn squash
Cookies, chocolate, ice cream, potato chips
Hard-boiled eggs, apple, plain popcorn with cinnamon, walnuts, or a WW Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Mini Bar
My doctor took notice: My blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar numbers were improving already. My flicker of hope became a little brighter.
September marked the return of my 60-hour workweeks as a nanny. Because my weekdays were packed, I cooked for myself on Sundays to ensure I had meals for the days ahead. I’d make an old-fashioned pot roast or my favorite goulash with whole-wheat pasta, then divided the dish into separate containers.
A major breakthrough
That October, I resolved to start incorporating more movement into my lifestyle. I started with 10 minutes a day and kept nudging myself to see how much longer I could go. By winter, I formed a goal to walk to the park about 2 miles from my home. I did it—and walked back, too! I was pleasantly surprised at myself.
Besides giving me an intrinsic feeling of accomplishment, walking revamped my mindset and almost felt like a form of therapy. Sometimes I’d cry on my walks; other times I’d smile. Having time alone with my thoughts allowed me to reflect on my past and examine some of the feelings I had buried deep within me over the years.
While I had no interest in reliving the childhood abuse I had survived, I was able to finally make that important connection between the incident and my present-day life: All along, I had been using food and my weight as a form of protection. It took me 30 years to make that connection, and it happened on one of my walks.
I felt like I had finally cracked the code to my relationship with food. I didn’t want to be the victim anymore; I wanted to be a survivor, a warrior. This kicked off a deeper search for peace and a sense of solace. I read books. I reflected. And with the power of prayer, I found forgiveness.
I continued on my journey, eventually reaching my goal in May 2015. I learned a lot in those four years. I gained a love for cooking through testing out recipes from cookbooks, for instance. As I started eating more fruits and vegetables, I appreciated how satisfied and energized I felt, compared with feeling sluggish after having sugary junk food. These healthy habits became sustainable over time. That’s a big part of why I’ve been able to maintain my 130-pound* weight loss for the past five years.
I decided to step outside my comfort zone without worrying that I had to be perfect. If I fall off the wagon, it’s easier to hop right back on, thanks to all the ZeroPoint™ foods—especially brown rice and potatoes. I’ve expanded my cooking repertoire with hearty dinners like sweet potato chili and shrimp fried rice. They are just so good.
I feel really proud of the girl I was before WW. I can say to her now, “I love you—you are the reason I have the life I have today.” That girl is my hero. She had the courage to change.
I have so many non-scale victories to be proud of, too. I used to see my doctor every three months because my health was so poor. That’s now become a six-month cadence. I’m no longer on any medication. As my numbers continue to improve, my doctor says, “This is all extra credit for the heart.”
Once I lost the weight, I really started living. I can travel on airplanes. I can go to Hawaii; I can go snorkeling. My weight used to dictate what I could and couldn’t do. Today, I’m in control.
If you are seeking resources or support around sexual violence or would like to learn more, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, provides one-on-one, confidential crisis services 24/7. Visit rainn.org for more information, or call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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